Where organized religion is all but disappeared in the Japanese culture, our family didn’t want to miss visiting the LDS temple in Japan. Wherever possible our family makes a point of visiting a LDS temple on our travels. We want to show and teach our children that principles transcend all cultures, fads and history. It’s important to stand for what you believe, and act accordingly regardless of what is happening around you.
In modern times only 3 – 4 % of people practice the originating religion of the Japanese culture, Shinto. Buddhism was incorporated in the 6th century and holds a tighter grip on the population with approximately 35% who believe in this religion. The remaining people associate themselves with either Shinto or Buddhism by visiting and praying at shrines, but do not identify as a particular sect due to the fact that the Japanese consider their beliefs a way of life versus a religion to subscribe to.
That leaves a very small margin for any other type of belief system to take root. Christianity marks only 2.3% of the Japanese population. These remarkably small numbers have not deterred the Latter Day Saints from constructing a temple here. In fact, there are three LDS temples in Japan; one centralized in Tokyo, one in the north in Sapporo, and one in the south in Fukuoka.
Because we always make an effort to visit the temple when we are away from home, the Tokyo Temple was definitely not an exception. After visiting so many ancient temples and shrines throughout the island, it was a really cool juxtaposition of beliefs. We also felt similar to the Japanese in that religion is a way of life for us.
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5-8-10 Minami Azabu Minato-Ku Tokyo 106-0047 Japan
The Tokyo temple is located in the Minato ward roughly 35 minutes by JR train from central Tokyo, or the Shinjuku area headed south and slightly east at the Hiro-o station. The local transit is so efficient, anything outside the vicinity of where you are at is approximately 35 minutes away. The temple opened in 1980 and is located next to the adjoining church building. There are English and Japanese speaking wards which operate here.
It is a beautiful temple, soaring above the city signs and bustling traffic pointing the way to Christ. It is perched on a small hill, and Moroni can be seen immediately upon exiting the JR train station. We happened upon a patriarch outside the temple who took our picture, and discussed with us briefly the Mormon church in Japan. It was a neat experience to be able to talk to him.
► For Kids: Obviously children are not allowed inside the temple for ordinance work, but they are welcome on the temple grounds and in the foyer if they behave reverently. We have always enjoyed teaching them that God’s work is always present no matter where you are in the world. It’s a wonderful reminder to ourselves as well.
There are no temple grounds, as the full property is used to house the temple, but it is located across the street from Arisugawa-no-Miya Memorial Park which lends a more reverent feeling to this space. This is a short visit with kids as the grounds are fairly small, but you can visit with patrons on the grounds, view the temple, and feel of the Spirit here. Read on to hear about this 16 acre mini central park inside Tokyo.
► Nap-Time Version: LDS Tokyo Temple across from Arisugawa Park. Beacon of spirituality above the city streets.